Towards the end of last year I was contacted by Dongwon Lee from the South Korean LEGO fan magazine simply titled CREATOR. They mostly cover the work of LEGO fans from Asia, but they wanted to do an interview with me, because apparently the LEGO Mini Taj Mahal I built a few years ago was popular in their country. While working on the interview with Dongwon, I also had a chance to learn more about the magazine and the team behind it. Dongwon even sent me some of the previous volumes of the magazine so I can check them out. The interview with me was published in Volume 5 of the magazine. Below I have included the original English version of the interview (the magazine is currently only available in Korean), as well as some more information about the magazine. 🙂
CREATOR is the first premium LEGO fan magazine in Asia, with around 150 pages of high quality content per issue. It actually looks very similar to other LEGO fan publications like Blocks and Bricks Culture with sharp printing on high quality paper. The goal of CREATOR is to inspire LEGO fans with interesting articles, as well as to feature the work of LEGO fans through interviews. So far five volumes have been published with increasingly better quality. While CREATOR is currently only available in South Korea in Korean, they do have plans to translate the magazine to English and Chinese in the near future, and expand their circulation as well. If you are in Korea you can subscribe to the magazine at their website CreatorMg.com, or get it in major bookstores. If you are in other countries you can still get the magazine by emailing the CREATOR team. They already have enthusiastic subscribers from other countries, including the US. Subscription is $36 (including tax and shipping) for four volumes per year (spring, summer, fall and winter), which is a very reasonable price when it comes to niche, high quality magazines.
Although I can’t read the magazines as they are in Korean, just flipping through them is interesting. They feature prominent LEGO fans from Asia with some amazing LEGO creations, as well as articles on LEGO fan events, discussions on new LEGO sets, and even step-by-step instructions on some smaller LEGO fan created models. The incredible work of Asian LEGO fans always fascinated me. They build with the same bricks we do, but their creations are quite different. They are known for their amazing robots, brick-built characters, mechanical creations, and beautiful Asian style buildings. I felt quite humbled that they choose to interview me as the first non-Asian LEGO fan.
In volume 5 of CREATOR magazine they included two articles with my work. One is a step-by-step guide to a slightly modified version of my LEGO Mini Taj Mahal that won a micro-building contest at Toys-N-Bricks a few years ago. The contest limited the use of parts to 200, which was quite a challenge, and forced me to cut some corners. Later I made some slight adjustments to fill out the details, and even added a light-brick to illuminate the model from the inside. The instructions in CREATOR are somewhere in between the contest entry and my current version. In particular the four corner columns are built differently than how I designed it, but the end result looks pretty close. The second article is the interview, where CREATOR asked me a series of questions about my involvement in the LEGO hobby. It is pretty long, and takes up eight pages in the magazine, but I included the English version below in case you are interested to see what it was about (pictures are my creations from the interview).
➡ Would you introduce yourself to our Korean fans (name, where do you like, what do you do, etc.)? – My real name is Anna, but I go by Akunthita or Thita on most LEGO forums. I live in sunny Florida with my husband, Leonard. He is not a LEGO fan, and he finds the whole LEGO thing amusing, but he still supports my hobby, and shows my LEGO creations to everyone who visits our house. I study internet marketing, and practice what I learn by various internet related ventures, including running my own LEGO blog.
➡ When did you become interested in the LEGO hobby? And when did you start to build your own creations? – I have five brothers and three sisters, and LEGO was always part of our lives. Our parents valued creative toys, so we regularly got LEGO for Christmas and birthdays. LEGO was the most popular toy in our family and we often spent days – and even weeks – developing and playing out stories with LEGO bricks. In addition our Dad is an architect, and he has been using LEGO for modeling some of his work. By seeing his example while growing up, building our own thing was normal for us kids. We rarely built from instructions – only when we first got a new set. Then we took it apart and made it better in our own way.
➡ Do you have other hobbies besides LEGO? – Of course! Both me and my hubby very much like the outdoors, and we spend as much time as we can at the beach, or biking, or traveling to new and interesting places. I also practice martial arts (Cuong Nhu) and hope to reach black belt one day. I also love to do anything with my hands; arts, crafts, fixing things. The real world is very much like LEGO; made up of small pieces that need to be put together and can always be rearranged.
➡ What was your first LEGO creation? – I wish I could answer that for you, but I just don’t remember. As I said, LEGO was always part of our lives. I do remember though that my siblings and I were either building spaceships or castles. I don’t remember ever building contemporary things like cities and cars. We were always in the fantasy world of either valiant knights fighting badguys, or brave space explorers fighting alien badguys. So the good vs. evil was always there…
➡ Have you ever heard of CREATOR magazine? How did you learn about it? – I actually became aware of CREATOR magazine for this interview, and had a chance to review Volume 3. Of course I don’t read Korean, but I did look at the pictures carefully.
➡ How do you like the content of CREATOR magazine? – I think the magazine looks very professional. As far as content, I was especially impressed by the mechs featured in the magazine, and the images from the BRICKOREA Convention. It is always inspiring to see the creations of LEGO fans from around the world, and looks like South Korea has some very fine builders.
➡ Would you tell us about your LEGO Mini Taj Mahal, and what was your motive to build it? – The Mini Taj Mahal was built for the 2011 Toys-N-Bricks Micro-Build Tournament. The challenge was to pick an official LEGO set from a pre-determined list, and build a micro-version with no more than 200 pieces. Although I followed LEGO contests – like the LEGO Classic Castle Contest and various contest at Eurobricks – closely, and admired the amazing creations people came up with, I never entered a LEGO contest before. I wanted to gain some experience, and I thought that the Toys-N-Bricks Micro-Build Tournament was a good fit for a first-timer like me. Especially because it didn’t require a huge amount of time and LEGO bricks. As far as my entry, I choose the Taj Mahal for its incredible beauty (both the real and the LEGO version), and I felt it would make a pretty micro set. There were many wonderful and creative entries in the contest, and I really enjoyed being part of the whole experience. The Mini Taj Mahal won first place in the tournament, and I received the #10219 LEGO Creator Maersk Train as the prize.
➡ Your LEGO Mini Taj Mahal is very popular in the Korean LEGO fan community, and some people even copied it and said it was their creation. What do you think of this issue? – There is a saying that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, so from that perspective I’m happy that people like my Mini Taj Mahal design so much they even claim it for themselves. On the other hand, it is sad to see that some people have so little faith in their own abilities to create something nice, that they feel the need claim someone else’s work. Get inspiration from others, but believe in yourself and build your own thing. That’s where real satisfaction and happiness comes from, and you become a better builder too.
➡ Do you have other creations like the Mini Taj Mahal? – I build all the time. Sometimes just experimenting with techniques and ideas, and sometimes building more involved projects. Currently I’m working on a space station for the Orange Team from LEGO Galaxy Squad, and simultaneously also working on another space station for my all-time favorite set, the #21109 LEGO Ideas Exo Suit. And I have something called the 16×16 Project, where I build historical armies and mini structures on 16×16 stud baseplates. I really like history, and researching different cultures and trying to recreate their architecture and military is interesting and absorbing. A 16×16 baseplate is large enough to create a sample of each culture, while small enough to remain affordable. I’m not the best at photographing everything, but you can see some of my work in my flickr gallery.
➡ Can we put the instruction for the LEGO Mini Taj Mahal in our magazine? – Sure. It is actually a very simple build, because – as I have mentioned – contest entries were restricted to 200 pieces. I have pictures of all the pieces needed, and the building steps in my flickr gallery. Since the contest I built an updated version of the Mini Taj Mahal with a bit more pieces and more details.
➡ Would you introduce our readers to theBrickBlogger.com? – I left the LEGO hobby in my mid-teens and didn’t come back to it until I was an adult. In my teens I had the feeling it was not appropriate for a teenage girl to “still play with LEGO” (although occasionally I still did on the pretext of babysitting my younger siblings). As an adult I came to the realization that life is too short to worry about what other people think of me. So I started to follow my passions and dreams, including getting back to the LEGO hobby. When I re-entered the world of LEGO, I had so much to learn and catch up with. Then I discovered that there are other people like me, who went through what LEGO fans call their “Dark Ages” – the time when they gave up the hobby for some years. TheBrickBlogger is my way of reaching out to these people and share with them information, inspiration and ideas to get back to the hobby and catch up. At least that’s how it all started. Since then theBrickBlogger got much larger, and I’m not the only contributor to it. While we cover everything from news, reviews, building techniques, great creations, videos, and more, the focus is always to share the passion of the LEGO hobby in a friendly and welcoming way.
➡ What is your position at the Brick Blogger? – TheBrickBlogger started out as my personal blog based on my study of internet marketing. Using LEGO as the topic was the suggestion of my husband. I guess he was tired of me always talking about LEGO, so he was hoping that if I write about it, I will leave him in peace. I’m still the owner of the website, although now I’m not the only contributor to it.
➡ How can LEGO fans in Korea keep in touch and see your creation? – Feel free to stop by at theBrickBlogger.com at any time. I’m always happy to answer questions, assist LEGO fans in any way I can, or just chat. My flickr album is at flickr.com/photos/akunthita/, where I share some of my creations (when I remember to take pictures of them – in general I rather build that photograph).
➡ Do you have any last words for our readers? – Building alone is an absorbing – almost meditative – process that result in great personal satisfaction. There is even a sense of magic and wonder as you solve problems, or when LEGO pieces click together just right to achieve what you want. Some people remain lone builders their whole life, and they feel completely fulfilled. I would say though, that by reaching out to other LEGO fans, the hobby can offer a whole other level of fulfillment. So even if you like to build alone, stretch yourself and make an effort to go to LEGO conventions, or see if there is a LEGO club near you. There is nothing like continuing to learn and grow in the company of others.
➡ Any other last tips you would like to share? – If you don’t have a large LEGO collection, use LEGO Digital Designer to create your models. It is a free software offered directly by LEGO. This way you don’t have to limit your imagination. I actually don’t have a huge collection myself. When I plan a larger project, and don’t have all the pieces, I work with LDD in combination of real LEGO bricks. Once I finalize the design, I use BrickLink.com to buy the pieces I’m missing. Be careful with BrickLink though; it is a LEGO fan’s heaven and can be very addictive. 😀
Working with the CREATOR team for this interview has been fun and interesting. It is clear that they love what they are doing, and have the passion and vision to continue growing the magazine. If you are interested to learn more about it you can visit their website, or if you have any questions about the magazine and don’t speak Korean, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I will make sure that Dongwon answers them for you. 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
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- New LEGO Magazine for Families!
- LEGO Club Magazine – Fun & Entertaining!
- LEGO User Groups in South East Asia
- OXFORD – Korean Castles & Battleships
- Contest Entry for Micro-Build Tournament! (Mini Taj Mahal)